Date(s) - 04/07/2015
1:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Result: Won - Empingham 227-5, Barford 228-5 (Griffin 102*)
MATCH REPORT – BCC vs EMPINGHAM – 4th July 2015
Fresh from a fine opening win at Uppingham and your captain’s Saturday tour winning streak of one in a row to continue, the pressure was on for another victory. But the day shone brightly even if some of the previous night’s kebabbers weren’t quite so sprightly. An advance party made it to the ground early and helped remove covers and warm up in the nets. In a bizarre Glenn McGrath / cricket ball incident, we almost lost Barford’s premier umpire P Romyn as he had a disagreement with a barbed wire fence and turned his ankle and aggravated a sprained toe which severely threatened his participation. Fortunately with McIlroyesque conviction he lived to umpire (and captain the next) heroically.
When the rest of the team turned up, fresh from Oakham’s finest ink emporium with their new tatts on show, the toss was successfully negotiated and a with an embarrassment of riches to choose from in a bowling heavy team, it was Captain Morgan to use his pace with the stiff breeze behind him. He struck in his second over having the dangerous opener Sampson caught for 2. Things got even better as Empingham were reduced to 15/2 when Tony Timms tacked his bowling into the wind and floated one into the stumps of his victim.
Things got trickier for the bowlers and given the options open, Morgan and Timms were sent out to graze (stud?) with solid opening figures of 1/17 and 1/24 respectively. Time for more spin and the twin tweaks of Tourmeister Ireland and Jones bowled in harness. Tighter than Steve Herring’s wallet, their first 7 overs between them cost just 14 runs before the Empingham batsmen took a liking to Richard’s deliveries and it was time to withdraw and try A Hawkins into the wind. The breakthrough came at the other end though in Mike Ireland’s penultimate over when he induced a catch that popped up on the offside and at just past the halfway point Empingham were 88/3. Mike finished with superb figures go 1/21 from his eight overs and with one batsman well set and the new man keen to feast on the medium pace that was offered up to him, the next 12 overs rattled by with almost 100 runs coming off them before Ben Griffin rearranged Thraves’ stumps for 47 and did the same to M Stephenson who departed for a magnificent 120. Generous as always the captain decided that getting smited for 40 of 4 overs was doing nothing for his averages and donated his end to P Johnstone who got in on the act with a wicket in the last over, but by then 227 was the target. A big hill, a few short boundaries the gale-force wind could all play a part in the second innings too…
After an excellent tea O’Reilly was thrust into the opening spot again to try and make amends for the previous night’s stodgy performance and with the skipper got off to a decent start and up with the rate until Henderson played all around a straight ball and the score on 21/1 after 4 overs. Keen to keep the bowling out, the runs dried up and in case anyone missed the first wicket, the unlucky Pete Fisher provided a replay and was out for 2. Keeping wickets in hand was key and Paul Johnstone started to rebuild the innings with dependable O’Reilly. They soaked up the pressure compiling a crucial, gritty 69 partnership before Paul was out for 42.
The good news was it was time for Ben Griffin to bat. The bad news was there were only 17 overs left to get 128 runs and as long as Chris was still there, it felt like the rate was climbing. After a slow start Ben turned up the heat and started finding the boundary regularly. In a flash the 50 partnership was up with Chris contributing 0.00001 runs and eventually he was agonisingly (for the crowd) bowled 2 runs short of his 50.
Recollections of the closing overs by your captain are little vague, given his supreme confidence in the elite batting line-up, he took the opportunity for a short (and ultimately expensive in the Saturday night fines) power-nap. Upon waking, the final dramatic overs played out as Ben took advantage of the gaps in the field with first Andy Hawkins providing assistance until he was out and then a crucial partnership with Andrew Sherratt to somehow see Barford home with a comfortable* 7 balls to spare. Another hard-fought Saturday tour win was in the book thanks in large part to an exhausted Ben who finished on a peerless 102 not out, and probably just about edged the nomination for man of the match.
PS. The only down side of an excellent match was confusion and a lack of communication by Barford resulting in us not providing a substitute fielder when Empingham’s skipper had to depart early, leaving the hosts with only nine on the pitch. We are deeply embarrassed by this as it goes against our club ethos and we hope that the home side will accept our apologies
PPS. Thanks to Judy Gregory and Gary Cooper for their help in organising the fixture